An overwhelmingly Arab-centric perspective dominates the West’s understanding of Islam and leads to a view of this religion as exclusively Middle Eastern and monolithic. Teena Purohit presses for a reorientation that would conceptualize Islam instead as a heterogeneous religion that has found a variety of expressions in local contexts throughout history. The story she tells of an Ismaili community in colonial India illustrates how much more complex Muslim identity is, and always has been, than the media would have us believe.
The Aga Khan Case focuses on a nineteenth-century court case in Bombay that influenced how religious identity was defined in India and subsequently the British Empire. The case arose when a group of Indians known as the Khojas refused to pay tithes to the Aga Khan, a Persian nobleman and hereditary spiritual leader of the Ismailis. The Khojas abided by both Hindu and Muslim customs and did not identify with a single religion prior to the court’s ruling in 1866, when the judge declared them to be converts to Ismaili Islam beholden to the Aga Khan.
In her analysis of the ginans, the religious texts of the Khojas that formed the basis of the judge’s decision, Purohit reveals that the religious practices they describe are not derivations of a Middle Eastern Islam but manifestations of a local vernacular one. Purohit suggests that only when we understand Islam as inseparable from the specific cultural milieus in which it flourishes do we fully grasp the meaning of this global religion.
The Supreme Courts decisions concerning the first amendment are hotly debated, and the controversy shows no signs of abating as additional cases come before the court. Adding much-needed historical and philosophical background to the discussion, Richard J. Regan reconsiders some of the most important Supreme Court cases regarding the establishment clause and the free exercise of religion.
The relationship between religious belief and sexuality as personal attributes exhibits some provocative comparisons. Despite the nonestablishment of religion in the United States and the constitutional guarantee of free exercise, Christianity functions as the religious and moral standard in America. Ethical views that do not fit within this consensus often go unrecognized as moral values. Similarly, in the realm of sexual orientation, heterosexuality is seen as the yardstick by which sexual practices are measured. The notion that "alternative" sexual practices like homosexuality could possess ethical significance is often overlooked or ignored.
In her new book, An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage, political scientist Emily Gill draws an extended comparison between religious belief and sexuality, both central components of one’s personal identity. Using the religion clause of the First Amendment as a foundation, Gill contends that, just as US law and policy ensure that citizens may express religious beliefs as they see fit, it should also ensure that citizens may marry as they see fit. Civil marriage, according to Gill, is a public institution, and the exclusion of some couples from a state institution is a public expression of civic inequality.
An Argument for Same-Sex Marriage is a passionate and timely treatment of the various arguments for and against same-sex marriage and how those arguments reflect our collective sense of morality and civic equality. It will appeal to readers who have an interest in gay and lesbian studies, political theory, constitutional law, and the role of religion in the contemporary United States.
Chinese officials put considerable effort into managing the fiscal and legal affairs of their jurisdictions, but they also devoted significant time and energy to performing religious rituals on behalf of the state. This groundbreaking study explores this underappreciated aspect of Chinese political life by investigating rainmaking activities organized or conducted by local officials in the Qing dynasty. Using a wide variety of primary sources, this study explains how and why state rainmaking became a prominent feature of the late imperial religious landscape. It also vividly describes the esoteric, spectacular, and occasionally grotesque techniques officials used to pray for rain. Charting the ways in which rainmaking performances were contested by local communities, this study argues that state rainmaking provided an important venue where the relationship between officials and their constituents was established and maintained. For this reason, the author concludes that official rainmaking was instrumental in constituting state power at the local level. This monograph addresses issues that are central to the study of late imperial Chinese society and culture, including the religious activities of Chinese officials, the nature of state orthodoxy, and the symbolic dimensions of local governance.
A century ago, as the United States prepared to enter World War I, the military chaplaincy included only mainline Protestants and Catholics. Today it counts Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Christian Scientists, Buddhists, Seventh-day Adventists, Hindus, and evangelicals among its ranks. Enlisting Faith traces the uneven processes through which the military struggled with, encouraged, and regulated religious pluralism over the twentieth century.
Moving from the battlefields of Europe to the jungles of Vietnam and between the forests of Civilian Conservation Corps camps and meetings in government offices, Ronit Y. Stahl reveals how the military borrowed from and battled religion. Just as the state relied on religion to sanction war and sanctify death, so too did religious groups seek recognition as American faiths. At times the state used religion to advance imperial goals. But religious citizens pushed back, challenging the state to uphold constitutional promises and moral standards.
Despite the constitutional separation of church and state, the federal government authorized and managed religion in the military. The chaplaincy demonstrates how state leaders scrambled to handle the nation’s deep religious, racial, and political complexities. While officials debated which clergy could serve, what insignia they would wear, and what religions appeared on dog tags, chaplains led worship for a range of faiths, navigated questions of conscience, struggled with discrimination, and confronted untimely death. Enlisting Faith is a vivid portrayal of religious encounters, state regulation, and the trials of faith—in God and country—experienced by the millions of Americans who fought in and with the armed forces.
Why teach about religion in public schools? What educational value can such courses potentially have for students?
In For the Civic Good, Walter Feinberg and Richard A. Layton offer an argument for the contribution of Bible and world religion electives. The authors argue that such courses can, if taught properly, promote an essential aim of public education: the construction of a civic public, where strangers engage with one another in building a common future. The humanities serve to awaken students to the significance of interpretive and analytic skills, and religion and Bible courses have the potential to add a reflective element to these skills. In so doing, students awaken to the fact of their own interpretive framework and how it influences their understanding of texts and practices. The argument of the book is developed by reports on the authors’ field research, a two-year period in which they observed religion courses taught in various public high schools throughout the country, from the “Bible Belt” to the suburban parkway. They document the problems in teaching religion courses in an educationally appropriate way, but also illustrate the argument for a humanities-based approach to religion by providing real classroom models of religion courses that advance the skills critical to the development of a civic public.
If we want nonscientists and opinion-makers in the press, the lab, and the pulpit to take a fresh look at the relationship between science and religion, Ronald Numbers suggests that we must first dispense with the hoary myths that have masqueraded too long as historical truths.
Until about the 1970s, the dominant narrative in the history of science had long been that of science triumphant, and science at war with religion. But a new generation of historians both of science and of the church began to examine episodes in the history of science and religion through the values and knowledge of the actors themselves. Now Ronald Numbers has recruited the leading scholars in this new history of science to puncture the myths, from Galileo’s incarceration to Darwin’s deathbed conversion to Einstein’s belief in a personal God who “didn’t play dice with the universe.” The picture of science and religion at each other’s throats persists in mainstream media and scholarly journals, but each chapter in Galileo Goes to Jail shows how much we have to gain by seeing beyond the myths.
At its inception in 1868, the modern Japanese state pursued policies and created institutions that lacked a coherent conception of religion. Yet the architects of the modern state pursued an explicit "religious settlement" as they set about designing a constitutional order through the 1880s. As a result, many of the cardinal institutions of the state, particularly the imperial institution, eventually were defined in opposition to religion.
Drawing on an assortment of primary sources, including internal government debates, diplomatic negotiations, and the popular press, Trent E. Maxey documents how the novel category of religion came to be seen as the "greatest problem" by the architects of the modern Japanese state. In Meiji Japan, religion designated a cognitive and social pluralism that resisted direct state control. It also provided the modern state with a means to contain, regulate, and neutralize that plurality.
Neeti Nair Harvard University Press, 2023 Library of Congress BL65.S8N24 2023 | Dewey Decimal 201.720954
An insightful history of censorship, hate speech, and majoritarianism in post-partition South Asia.
At the time of the India-Pakistan partition in 1947, it was widely expected that India would be secular, home to members of different religious traditions and communities, whereas Pakistan would be a homeland for Muslims and an Islamic state. Seventy-five years later, India is on the precipice of declaring itself a Hindu state, and Pakistan has drawn ever narrower interpretations of what it means to be an Islamic republic. Bangladesh, the former eastern wing of Pakistan, has swung between professing secularism and Islam.
Neeti Nair assesses landmark debates since partition—debates over the constitutional status of religious minorities and the meanings of secularism and Islam that have evolved to meet the demands of populist electoral majorities. She crosses political and territorial boundaries to bring together cases of censorship in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, each involving claims of “hurt sentiments” on the part of individuals and religious communities. Such cases, while debated in the subcontinent’s courts and parliaments, are increasingly decided on its streets in acts of vigilantism.
Hurt Sentiments offers historical context to illuminate how claims of hurt religious sentiments have been weaponized by majorities. Disputes over hate speech and censorship, Nair argues, have materially influenced questions of minority representation and belonging that partition was supposed to have resolved. Meanwhile, growing legal recognition and political solicitation of religious sentiments have fueled a secular resistance.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom that sectarianism is intrinsically linked to violence, bloodshed, or social disharmony, Max Weiss uncovers the complex roots of Shiʿi sectarianism in twentieth-century Lebanon.
The template for conflicted relations between the Lebanese state and Shiʿi society arose under French Mandate rule through a process of gradual transformation, long before the political mobilization of the Shiʿi community under the charismatic Imam Musa al-Sadr and his Movement of the Deprived, and decades before the radicalization linked to Hizballah. Throughout the period, the Shiʿi community was buffeted by crosscutting political, religious, and ideological currents: transnational affiliations versus local concerns; the competing pull of Arab nationalism and Lebanese nationalism; loyalty to Jabal ʿAmil, the cultural heartland of Shiʿi Lebanon; and the modernization of religious and juridical traditions.
Uncoupling the beginnings of modern Shiʿi collective identity from the rise of political Shiʿism, Weiss transforms our understanding of the nature of sectarianism and shows why in Lebanon it has been both so productive and so destructive at the same time.
Throughout its long history, Japan had no concept of what we call “religion.” There was no corresponding Japanese word, nor anything close to its meaning. But when American warships appeared off the coast of Japan in 1853 and forced the Japanese government to sign treaties demanding, among other things, freedom of religion, the country had to contend with this Western idea. In this book, Jason Ananda Josephson reveals how Japanese officials invented religion in Japan and traces the sweeping intellectual, legal, and cultural changes that followed.
More than a tale of oppression or hegemony, Josephson’s account demonstrates that the process of articulating religion offered the Japanese state a valuable opportunity. In addition to carving out space for belief in Christianity and certain forms of Buddhism, Japanese officials excluded Shinto from the category. Instead, they enshrined it as a national ideology while relegating the popular practices of indigenous shamans and female mediums to the category of “superstitions”—and thus beyond the sphere of tolerance. Josephson argues that the invention of religion in Japan was a politically charged, boundary-drawing exercise that not only extensively reclassified the inherited materials of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto to lasting effect, but also reshaped, in subtle but significant ways, our own formulation of the concept of religion today. This ambitious and wide-ranging book contributes an important perspective to broader debates on the nature of religion, the secular, science, and superstition.
This book examines the political dimension of Islam in predivided Pakistan (1947-1971), one of the first new Muslim nations to commit itself to an Islamic political order and one in which the national debate on Islamic, political, and ideological issues has been the most persistent, focused, and rich of any dialogues in the contemporary Muslim world.
Nasim Jawed draws on the findings of a survey he conducted among two influential social groups—the ulama (traditional religious leaders) and the modern professionals—as well as on the writings of Muslim intellectuals. He probes the major Islamic positions on critical issues concerning national identity, the purpose of the state, the form of government, and free, socialist, and mixed economies.
This study contributes to an enhanced understanding of Islam's political culture worldwide, since the issues, positions, and arguments are often similar across the Muslim world. The empirical findings of the study not only outline the ideological backdrop of contemporary Islamic reassertion, but also reveal diversity as well as tensions within it.
Japan’s Holy War reveals how a radical religious ideology drove the Japanese to imperial expansion and global war. Bringing to light a wealth of new information, Walter A. Skya demonstrates that whatever other motives the Japanese had for waging war in Asia and the Pacific, for many the war was the fulfillment of a religious mandate. In the early twentieth century, a fervent nationalism developed within State Shintō. This ultranationalism gained widespread military and public support and led to rampant terrorism; between 1921 and 1936 three serving and two former prime ministers were assassinated. Shintō ultranationalist societies fomented a discourse calling for the abolition of parliamentary government and unlimited Japanese expansion.
Skya documents a transformation in the ideology of State Shintō in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth. He shows that within the religion, support for the German-inspired theory of constitutional monarchy that had underpinned the Meiji Constitution gave way to a theory of absolute monarchy advocated by the constitutional scholar Hozumi Yatsuka in the late 1890s. That, in turn, was superseded by a totalitarian ideology centered on the emperor: an ideology advanced by the political theorists Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko in the 1910s and 1920s. Examining the connections between various forms of Shintō nationalism and the state, Skya demonstrates that where the Meiji oligarchs had constructed a quasi-religious, quasi-secular state, Hozumi Yatsuka desired a traditional theocratic state. Uesugi Shinkichi and Kakehi Katsuhiko went further, encouraging radical, militant forms of extreme religious nationalism. Skya suggests that the creeping democracy and secularization of Japan’s political order in the early twentieth century were the principal causes of the terrorism of the 1930s, which ultimately led to a holy war against Western civilization.
“What does it mean to see the American landscape in a secular way?” asks Nicolas Howe at the outset of this innovative, ambitious, and wide-ranging book. It’s a surprising question because of what it implies: we usually aren’t seeing American landscapes through a non-religious lens, but rather as inflected by complicated, little-examined concepts of the sacred.
Fusing geography, legal scholarship, and religion in a potent analysis, Howe shows how seemingly routine questions about how to look at a sunrise or a plateau or how to assess what a mountain is both physically and ideologically, lead to complex arguments about the nature of religious experience and its implications for our lives as citizens. In American society—nominally secular but committed to permitting a diversity of religious beliefs and expressions—such questions become all the more fraught and can lead to difficult, often unsatisfying compromises regarding how to interpret and inhabit our public lands and spaces. A serious commitment to secularism, Howe shows, forces us to confront the profound challenges of true religious diversity in ways that often will have their ultimate expression in our built environment. This provocative exploration of some of the fundamental aspects of American life will help us see the land, law, and society anew.
In the course of exempting religious, educational, and charitable organizations from federal income tax, section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code requires them to refrain from campaign speech and much speech to influence legislation. These speech restrictions have seemed merely technical adjustments, which prevent the political use of a tax subsidy. But the cultural and legal realities are more disturbing.
Tracing the history of American liberalism, including theological liberalism and its expression in nativism, Hamburger shows the centrality of turbulent popular anxieties about the Catholic Church and other potentially orthodox institutions. He argues persuasively that such theopolitical fears about the political speech of churches and related organizations underlay the adoption, in 1934 and 1954, of section 501(c)(3)’s speech limits. He thereby shows that the speech restrictions have been part of a broad majority assault on minority rights and that they are grossly unconstitutional.
Along the way, Hamburger explores the role of the Ku Klux Klan and other nativist organizations, the development of American theology, and the cultural foundations of liberal “democratic” political theory. He also traces important legal developments such as the specialization of speech rights and the use of law to homogenize beliefs. Ultimately, he examines a wide range of contemporary speech restrictions and the growing shallowness of public life in America.
His account is an unflinching look at the complex history of American liberalism and at the implications for speech, the diversity of belief, and the nation’s future.
Cécile Laborde Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress BL65.S8L325 2017 | Dewey Decimal 322.1
Liberal societies conventionally treat religion as unique under the law, requiring both special protection (as in guarantees of free worship) and special containment (to keep religion and the state separate). But recently this idea that religion requires a legal exception has come under fire from those who argue that religion is no different from any other conception of the good, and the state should treat all such conceptions according to principles of neutrality and equal liberty. Cécile Laborde agrees with much of this liberal egalitarian critique, but she argues that a simple analogy between the good and religion misrepresents the complex relationships among religion, law, and the state. Religion serves as more than a statement of belief about what is true, or a code of moral and ethical conduct. It also refers to comprehensive ways of life, political theories of justice, modes of voluntary association, and vulnerable collective identities.
Disaggregating religion into its various dimensions, as Laborde does, has two clear advantages. First, it shows greater respect for ethical and social pluralism by ensuring that whatever treatment religion receives from the law, it receives because of features that it shares with nonreligious beliefs, conceptions, and identities. Second, it dispenses with the Western, Christian-inflected conception of religion that liberal political theory relies on, especially in dealing with the issue of separation between religion and state. As a result, Liberalism’s Religion offers a novel answer to the question: Can Western theories of secularism and religion be applied more universally in non-Western societies?
In the reign of James II, minority groups from across the religious spectrum, led by the Quaker William Penn, rallied together under the Catholic King James in an effort to bring religious toleration to England. Known as repealers, these reformers aimed to convince Parliament to repeal laws that penalized worshippers who failed to conform to the doctrines of the Church of England. Although the movement was destroyed by the Glorious Revolution, it profoundly influenced the post-revolutionary settlement, helping to develop the ideals of tolerance that would define the European Enlightenment.
Based on a rich array of newly discovered archival sources, Scott Sowerby’s groundbreaking history rescues the repealers from undeserved obscurity, telling the forgotten story of men and women who stood up for their beliefs at a formative moment in British history. By restoring the repealer movement to its rightful prominence, Making Toleration also overturns traditional interpretations of King James II’s reign and the origins of the Glorious Revolution. Though often depicted as a despot who sought to impose his own Catholic faith on a Protestant people, James is revealed as a man ahead of his time, a king who pressed for religious toleration at the expense of his throne. The Glorious Revolution, Sowerby finds, was not primarily a crisis provoked by political repression. It was, in fact, a conservative counter-revolution against the movement for enlightened reform that James himself encouraged and sustained.
Most people in the United States today no longer live their lives under the guidance of local institutionalized religious leadership, such as rabbis, ministers, and priests; rather, liberals and conservatives alike have taken charge of their own religious or spiritual practices. This shift, along with other social and cultural changes, has opened up a perhaps surprising space for chaplains—spiritual professionals who usually work with the endorsement of a religious community but do that work away from its immediate hierarchy, ministering in a secular institution, such as a prison, the military, or an airport, to an ever-changing group of clients of widely varying faiths and beliefs.
In A Ministry of Presence, Winnifred Fallers Sullivan explores how chaplaincy works in the United States—and in particular how it sits uneasily at the intersection of law and religion, spiritual care, and government regulation. Responsible for ministering to the wandering souls of the globalized economy, the chaplain works with a clientele often unmarked by a specific religious identity, and does so on behalf of a secular institution, like a hospital. Sullivan's examination of the sometimes heroic but often deeply ambiguous work yields fascinating insights into contemporary spiritual life, the politics of religious freedom, and the never-ending negotiation of religion's place in American institutional life.
Garry Wills is the polymathic public intellectual bemoaned as missing from American letters. A professor emeritus at Northwestern University, he has built upon his early studies in classics and patristics, while bringing his considerable intellect to bear on American culture, politics, and religion, notably through provocative articles and books on wars, past and present presidents, and the Catholic Church Wills has distinguished himself in the crowded field of Civil War history; fearlessly taken on the legacies of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, among other presidents; and offered a critical voice in many fraught ethical discussions, especially in the areas of war and peace.
Nation and World, Church and God gathers original critical reflections by leading writers and scholars on Garry Wills’s life work. Organized around the themes of “Classics,” “Civil War,” “War and Peace,” and “Theology, Church, and the Arts,” the book reflects the cultural acumen, fine-grained political analysis, ethical candor, and theological wisdom of one of America’s most prolific writers.
This book presents three of the works of Abduʾl-Bahā, son of the founder of the Bahāʾi Faith, which deal with social and political issues.
In The Secret of Divine Civilization (1875) Abduʾl-Bahā supports the administrative and broader social reforms of Mirzā Hosayn Khān, but looks mainly for organic reform through the efforts of Iranian intellectuals to awaken and educate the masses. In this work, Abduʾl-Bahā gives virtuous and progressive Islamic clerics a leading role among these intellectuals—indeed most of his appeals are directed specifically to them. A Traveller’s Narrative (1889/90) is an authoritative statement of the overarching concepts of Bahā’i social and political thinking. The Art of Governance (1892/93) was written as Iran entered a prerevolutionary phase, and ideas that we recognize today as the precursors of political Islam were spreading. It sets out the principles underlying the ideal relationship between religion and politics and between the government and the people.
In addition to presenting the first parallel text translations of these works, the Persian texts incorporate notes on variants in the early published sources. An introduction outlines the intellectual and political landscape from which Abduʾl-Bahā wrote, and in which his readers lived.
Religious organizations in many countries of the communist world have served as agents for the preservation, defense, and reinforcement of nationalist feelings, and in playing this role have frequently been a source of frustration to the Communist Party elites. Although the relationship between governments and religious groups varies according to the particular country and group in question, the mosaic of these relationships constitutes a revealing picture of the political reform shaping the lives of Soviet and East European citizens.
Religious activities have been of continuing importance in the rise of protest against postcolonial governments in Eastern Africa. Governments have attempted to “manage“ religious affairs in both Muslim and Christian areas. Religious denominations have acted as advocates of human rights and in opposition to one-party-state regimes. Islamic fundamentalism changed with the ending of the Cold War.
The book is divided into four parts: The Challenge of Islam; Christianity, Sectarianism, and Politics in Uganda; Christians and Muslim in Kenyan Politics; and Cross-cultural Complications. An introductory essay by Michael Twaddle provides and overview of the changing character of politico-religious conflict in Eastern Africa. Holger Bernt Hansen summarizes the presentation with a discussion of dilemmas and challenges in the study of religion and politics.
In Religion and the Making of Nigeria, Olufemi Vaughan examines how Christian, Muslim, and indigenous religious structures have provided the essential social and ideological frameworks for the construction of contemporary Nigeria. Using a wealth of archival sources and extensive Africanist scholarship, Vaughan traces Nigeria’s social, religious, and political history from the early nineteenth century to the present. During the nineteenth century, the historic Sokoto Jihad in today’s northern Nigeria and the Christian missionary movement in what is now southwestern Nigeria provided the frameworks for ethno-religious divisions in colonial society. Following Nigeria’s independence from Britain in 1960, Christian-Muslim tensions became manifest in regional and religious conflicts over the expansion of sharia, in fierce competition among political elites for state power, and in the rise of Boko Haram. These tensions are not simply conflicts over religious beliefs, ethnicity, and regionalism; they represent structural imbalances founded on the religious divisions forged under colonial rule.
Prayer in public schools, abortion, gay and lesbian rights—these bitterly divisive issues dominate American politics today, revealing deep disagreements over basic moral values. In a highly readable account that draws on legal arguments, political theory, and philosophy, Ronald F. Thiemann explores the proper role of religious convictions in American public life. He proposes that religion can and should play an active, positive part in our society even as it maintains a fundamental commitment to pluralist, democratic values.
Arguing that both increased secularism and growing religious diversity since the 1960s have fragmented commonly held values, Thiemann observes that there has been an historical ambivalence in American attitudes towards religion in public life. He proposes abandoning the idea of an absolute wall between church and state and all the conceptual framework built around that concept in interpreting the first amendment. He returns instead to James Madison's views and the Constitutional principles of liberty, equality, and toleration. Refuting both political liberalism (as too secular) and communitarianism (as failing to meet the challenge of pluralism), Thiemann offers a new definition of liberalism that gives religions a voice in the public sphere as long as they heed the Constitutional principles of liberty, equality, and toleration or mutual respect.
The American republic, Thiemann notes, is a constantly evolving experiment in constructing a pluralistic society from its many particular communities. Religion can act as a positive force in its moral renewal, by helping to shape common cultural values.
All those interested in finding solutions to today's divisive political discord, in finding ways to disagree civilly in a democracy, and in exploring the extent to which religious convictions should shape the development of public policies will find that this book offers an important new direction for religion and the nation.
In the case of Nigeria, scholarship on religious politics has not adequately taken into account the pluralistic context and the idealistic pretensions of the state that inhibit the possibility of forging an enduring civic amity among Nigeria’s diverse groups. Ilesanmi proposes a new philosophy or model of religio-political interaction, which he calls dialogic politics. Dialogic politics celebrates pluralism and suggests that religious institutions he construed as mediating structures functioning as buffers between individual citizens in search of existential meaning and cultural identity and the impersonal state, which tends to gravitate toward instrumental objectives. Ilesanmi’s study offers a fresh perspective on the complex relations between political attitudes and religious convictions.
This book traces the essence of the Islamist Revolution from its origins in Egypt, through Najaf, Lebanon, Iran and the Iranian Revolution to today. Alastair Crooke presents a compelling account of the ideas and energy which are mobilising the Islamic world.
Crooke argues that the West faces a mass mobilisation against the US-led Western project. The roots of this conflict are described in terms of religious themes that extend back over 500 years. They represent clashing systems of thinking and values. Islamists have a vision for the future of their own societies which would entail radical change from Western norms. Resistance is presented as the means to force Western behaviour to change and to expose the essential differences between the two modes of thinking.
This is a rigourous account that traces the threads of revolution of various movements, including the influence of 'political Shi'ism' and the Iranian Revolution and its impact on Hezbollah and Hamas.
Shamanism, History, and the State
Nicholas Thomas and Caroline Humphrey, Editors University of Michigan Press, 1996 Library of Congress GN470.2.S53 1994 | Dewey Decimal 291.14
The literature on shamanism and related topics is extensive, but has in general been biased toward curing and trance; the political and historical significance of shamanic activities has been largely neglected. The contributors to Shamanism, History, and the State--distinguished anthropologists and historians from England, Australia, and France--show that shamanism is not static and stable, but always changing as a result of political dynamics and historical processes.
Contributors are Tamsyn Barton, Sysan Bayly, Mary Beard, Maurice Bloch, Peter Gow, Roberte N. Hamayon, Stephen Hugh-Jones, Caroline Humphrey, and Nicholas Thomas.
"The importance of this collection lies in the painstaking, many-sided ways in which it shows 'shamanism' to be a multifarious and continuously changing 'dialogue' or interaction with specific, local contexts. . . . Thus, rather than tackling the issue in principle, this collection tries to demonstrate through 'case studies' just how different 'shamanism' becomes if seen through a lens sensitive to history and the influence of institutions, such as the state, which seem far removed from it. I think the demonstrations add up to an impressive force." --Michael Taussig
"This new, ably edited volume provides . . . chapters that are rich in historic detail and that provide insights into general cultural processes and social interactions." --Historian
Nicholas Thomas is Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellow, Department of Prehistory and Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra. He is the author of Out of Time: History and Evolution in Anthropological Discourse. Caroline Humphrey, author of Karl Marx Collective: Economy, Society and Religion in a Siberian Collective Farm, is Fellow of King's College and Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge.
A novel account of the relationship between sincerity, religious freedom, and the secular in the United States.
“Sincerely held religious belief” is now a common phrase in discussions of American religious freedom, from opinions handed down by the US Supreme Court to local controversies. The “sincerity test” of religious belief has become a cornerstone of US jurisprudence, framing what counts as legitimate grounds for First Amendment claims in the eyes of the law. In Sincerely Held, Charles McCrary provides an original account of how sincerely held religious belief became the primary standard for determining what legally counts as authentic religion.
McCrary skillfully traces the interlocking histories of American sincerity, religion, and secularism starting in the mid-nineteenth century. He analyzes a diverse archive, including Herman Melville’s novel The Confidence-Man, vice-suppressing police, Spiritualist women accused of being fortune-tellers, eclectic conscientious objectors, secularization theorists, Black revolutionaries, and anti-LGBTQ litigants. Across this history, McCrary reveals how sincerity and sincerely held religious belief developed as technologies of secular governance, determining what does and doesn’t entitle a person to receive protections from the state.
This fresh analysis of secularism in the United States invites further reflection on the role of sincerity in public life and religious studies scholarship, asking why sincerity has come to matter so much in a supposedly “post-truth” era.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Taken as a whole, this statement has the aim of separating church and state, but tensions can emerge between its two elements—the so-called Nonestablishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause—and the values that lie beneath them.
If the government controls (or is controlled by) a single church and suppresses other religions, the dominant church’s “establishment” interferes with free exercise. In this respect, the First Amendment’s clauses coalesce to protect freedom of religion. But Kent Greenawalt sets out a variety of situations in which the clauses seem to point in opposite directions. Are ceremonial prayers in government offices a matter of free exercise or a form of establishment? Should the state provide assistance to religious private schools? Should parole boards take prisoners’ religious convictions into account? Should officials act on public reason alone, leaving religious beliefs out of political decisions? In circumstances like these, what counts as appropriate treatment of religion, and what is misguided?
When Free Exercise and Nonestablishment Conflict offers an accessible but sophisticated exploration of these conflicts. It explains how disputes have been adjudicated to date and suggests how they might be better resolved in the future. Not only does Greenawalt consider what courts should decide but also how officials and citizens should take the First Amendment’s conflicting values into account.
Courts have often treated the two religion clauses of the First Amendment as contradictory, with the free exercise clause used to protect religious practices and the establishment clause employed to limit the public expression of religious beliefs. Wrestling with God not only reconciles the relationship between the two clauses but also distinguishes them in terms of their respective purposes.